Must Reads

Dozens Of Beluga Whales Trapped By Bering Sea Ice

This undated photo provided Oct. 24, 2011 by Mystic Aquarium shows Naluark, a male beluga whale, swimming at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Officials said Naluark was flown to the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., in hopes that he will mate with one of the two female belugas on exhibit there. (AP Photo/John G. Shedd Aquarium via Mystic Aquarium, Keith Pamper) i
Keith Pamper/ASSOCIATED PRESS
This undated photo provided Oct. 24, 2011 by Mystic Aquarium shows Naluark, a male beluga whale, swimming at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Officials said Naluark was flown to the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., in hopes that he will mate with one of the two female belugas on exhibit there. (AP Photo/John G. Shedd Aquarium via Mystic Aquarium, Keith Pamper)
Keith Pamper/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Russian officials say more than 100 beluga whales are boxed in by ice floes in the Bering Sea and could perish if they don't escape. Belugas are white whales that favor frigid northern waters. But, as the Moscow Times reports, the polar ice is advancing and the whales don't have much food. They could run out of places to surface for air or they might be caught by predators.

Provincial officials in Chukotka, where the pod is trapped, asked Russia's Transportation and Emergency agencies for help to free the animals. An icebreaker is now headed to the region on the Bering Sea coast. Seas are rough and it could take two days for the vessel to arrive.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strokes a beluga whale. i

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strokes a beluga whale. Alexei Nikolsky/AP hide caption

toggle caption Alexei Nikolsky/AP
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strokes a beluga whale.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strokes a beluga whale.

Alexei Nikolsky/AP

Although the beluga is often described as 'endangered', it hasn't yet made the official 'threat' list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Still, the trapped whales could generate interest from Russian president Vladimir Putin: in 2009, Time notes the Russian leader donned a wetsuit to help scientists attach a transmitter to a beluga whale in an experiment. He's even got the snaps to prove it.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from